This week, we’re chatting about our favorite Thanksgiving recipes, ideas for making memories, and Pinterest tips.
We’re also sharing our book report for Taste Makers by Mayukh Sen.
You can find the podcast posts archive here.
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Our go-to Thanksgiving Feast recipes!
Here is the kitchen torch that Elsie uses for the creme brulee.
Emma – Classic Hot Toddy
A unique idea for celebrating Thanksgiving:
Emma – Turkey Trot
Elsie – Family Pie Night
Something very “hygge” that makes you feel warm and cozy:
Emma – Tea Advent
Elsie – Lighting a Christmas tree candle and making paper chains
Listener Question: How how do you curate your Pinterest?
- Start by pinning five pins of what you are interested in
- Pin things that are beautiful to you
- Engage with what you’re interested in
Miss an Episode? Get Caught Up!
Episode 161 Transcript:
Elsie: You’re listening to the A Beautiful Mess Podcast, your cozy, comfort, listen. This week we’re chatting about our favorite Thanksgiving recipes, ideas for making memories and Pinterest Tips. We’re also sharing our book report for Tastemakers by Mayukh Sen
Emma: So this is a food, food, food, episode.
Elsie: Yes, I’m excited to talk about food. We actually had a request for more food episodes. So this is definitely that. And yeah, I’m so excited to start planning our Thanksgiving recipes this week, and it is definitely not too early to start shopping and getting prepared. I’m so afraid that something’s not going to be there at the last minute that I want to do everything early.
Emma: Yeah, it’s always a bummer if you’re at the store and you’re like, I really need pumpkin puree and they’re already out and you’re like, dang it.
Elsie: Yes, yeah. So in this episode, we’re going to share some of our favorite Thanksgiving recipes from A Beautiful Mess. We have probably 100 different recipes. There’s so many on the blog. We’re narrowing it down to our favorites that we make every year and also a few traditions that we can do. Okay, the first category is Thanksgiving sides, which I thought we could each pick at least two of them because I think Thanksgiving sides for me, it’s like the main attraction.
Emma: Yes. I love turkey and gravy, don’t get me wrong, but I’m in it for the sides.
Elsie: Yeah, the sides are the most exciting part. I mean the sides and then maybe the pies. I mean, yeah, Turkey is fine. It is what it is. But yeah…
Emma: It’s turkey. LOL
Elsie: It’s just turkey. Okay, so do you have certain sides that you make every single year for Thanksgiving?
Emma: Yes. So I am very much obsessed with my side dish, number one all-time favorite, baked macaroni. I think it’s called best-baked macaroni on our blog. We’ll link all these in the show notes. So that’s mine. It’s not a holiday for me until I have some baked macaroni, very important to me. My husband’s favorite is green bean casserole. I also have a green bean casserole on the blog. I think it’s called Pepper Jack green bean casserole. It’s made with fresh green beans so it’s not so soggy. Nothing wrong with canned green beans, but I kind of like it fresh. It also has pepper jack cheese so it’s a little bit spicy, not a lot, kids could still enjoy it. It’s just got a little kick to it. It’s a classic with just a little extra to it. Those are two that I make always, every year, love them. Staples.
Elsie: Wonderful. So my number one favorite Thanksgiving, I talk about this every year, I probably will talk about this every year on the podcast until the end of time, is stuffing meatballs. Stuffing meatballs is one of Emma’s greatest feats as a food blogger.
Emma: Greatest achievements.
Elsie: Yeah. She has three Oscars on her shelf, and it’s all for stuffing meatballs. They’re just so good. It’s really unique. The thing I love about it is, if you’re going to a party where you feel like the food is going to be, not to be mean, but Thanksgiving food is kind of predictable sometimes. You know what I mean? It can be like we were raised in a family where our grandmas are good at so many things and talented at so many things but food was not a big interest for them. It wasn’t like the grandmas in the movies. It was very different. I always grew up thinking Thanksgiving food is kind of boring and the same every year. I feel like Emma’s stuffing meatballs blows it all out of the water. If you show up to an event with these meatballs, everyone will be so impressed, inspired, in the festive mood. The whole atmosphere will change. People might start joining hands and singing. I’m really into them. Okay, so yeah, the meatballs are my everything. The other thing I love is rolls with honey butter. This is part of our childhood. Honey butter is different. One time at a party I made different kinds of compound butter. I think compound butters are so fun to make. It’s super easy. Do you have a food processor? Do you have butter? Do you have other things you can throw into the butter? That’s all it is.
Emma: Do you know how to stir? You got it.
Emma: Just fold in the cheese, just kidding, that’s from Schitt’s Creek.
Elsie: LOL, yeah. Any kind of rolls. For me, I like dinner rolls above a crescent roll but don’t fight me if you are a crescent roll person, I’m just not as much. I would probably pick dinner rolls. Making your own butter, it’s so easy, so fun. The other thing I love, this is not really a side dish, but it just must be noted, is the autumn trail mix. So my autumn trail mix is like my most important recipe that I’ve ever written. The thing is, it puts me in the mood, and I usually don’t start it until Thanksgiving, and then it ends at Christmas. I make usually about three batches of it and we eat it absolutely constantly. It brings so much joy and it’s just fun to make. You can put a little twist, for example, when you do the autumn one you can sprinkle Reese’s Pieces in it. Then when you do the more Christmas one you can get the Christmas colored M&Ms if you want, that’s pretty much as far as the twists go. I think what makes my recipe kind of special is I’m very into the rye chips. I’m personally not as into pretzels, but you can always customize it to make it your own thing. I usually put macadamia nuts instead of peanuts, because that’s just what I think is a better nut. Just make it your own special, perfect trail mix. I mean, Chex Mix, Chex Mix!
Emma: I love it when it has CHEEZ-IT crackers in it.
Elsie: Yeah, the toasty CHEEZ-IT’s, because there’s kind of a buttery mix that you mix it all in before you bake it. It really makes the most superior CHEEZ-ITs you’ve ever had in your life.
Emma: Yeah, it really does. These are like, do you like CHEEZ-IT’s? Well get ready for your mind to be blown because these are CHEEZ-IT’s with extra butter on them. So good. Yeah, it’s true. Honey butter is so good. Which reminds me of our great aunt Ina because she would always have it at her house for Thanksgiving. I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m going to go ahead and mention it here since this is the Thanksgiving episode. I got my Great Aunt Ina’s jello salad recipe from our grandma. I had to call her and be like, Can I get Aunt Ina’s jello salad? And then my grandma goes, which one? And I was like, Well, the one I remember had pretzels in it and she was like, Okay, I’ll bring you that one. She had this other one that I liked better. She brought me two jello salads and I’ve been experimenting with them and I’m putting the best one on the blog. It might already be on by the time you’re listening to this or it’ll be on this week. If you’re not into jello salad I get it but there is good and bad jello salad. A good jello salad is just delicious because it’s kind of like a dessert appetizer that you get to eat during the main course.
Elsie: Just to be really clear, this is a cranberry, Thanksgiving themed, jello salad. It’s not just any jelly.
Emma: Jello salad might be a good segway to the next topic, which is desserts. Let’s talk about favorite Thanksgiving desserts.
Elsie: Yes. Okay, so everyone knows I love the Emma has this cheesecake swirl pumpkin pie recipe on A Beautiful Mess. It is my favorite pie of all time. It’s so good. I think it’s a little bit better than pumpkin pie and a little bit better than cheesecake. It’s the best of both. Then the other thing I want to mention, well I want to make this year, is Emma’s recipe for sweet potato creme brulee. I think creme brulee is an underrated, a completely underrated dessert. It’s really easy to make at home. I like complicated recipes, but I can’t actually do complicated baking recipes. I always fail on certain things like yeasted recipes. Because I have my little hand. We should link this in the show notes. The little hand, what do you call it? The fire thing that you use for creme brulee?
Emma: It’s like a little torch, a little handheld torch.
Elsie: It’s like a mini kitchen torch. You can use it if you want to make a cocktail that has the smoke off the top. You can use it for things like that. You can use it to brew lay a grapefruit and you can definitely use it to make your own creme brulee at home. We actually use it to make s’mores too one time in a pinch.
Emma: Honestly, anything that comes out of your toaster. If it’s not toasted enough, just give it a little kitchen torch, BOOM, problem solved.
Elsie: So yeah, I want to make this recipe this year just because it sounds really festive, it goes with thanksgiving, but it’s also different and unique. Yeah, what’s your favorite dessert?
Emma: So this is kind of Christmasy, but I like to make it for both. I love puppy chow. Some people call it muddy buddies, but it’s like Chex Mix cereal that’s covered in chocolate and powdered sugar. There’s peanut butter in it. There’s a whole recipe to it. We have that on the blog. There’s lots of different ways to make it. I love seeing how other people put their spin on it too. I love puppy chow. Part of what I like about it is you can have your main dessert. So let’s say you’re eating Elsie’s pumpkin cheesecake pie, then you can have just a little handful of puppy chow too. So then you get lucky. I like to have kind of a dessert plate, you know, so you need a few things to go on there. I also have a chocolate pie recipe on the blog. I think it’s called Chocolate Silk Pie. I love pumpkin pie, I love sweet potato pie. Love pecan pie. That’s a big classic for people. I always like to have something chocolate on the dessert table. I just feel like it brings another element. I personally love chocolate. It’s a top for me. So I like a chocolate pie.
Elsie: Beautiful. I love that. I was just gonna mention or shout out Emma’s Oreo truffles. Tis the season for Oreo truffles. You can decorate them to look like anything you want so easily. It’s just a different color of melting chocolate. I think they’re so good and they’re so fun to make. I did think they were easy enough to make with kids because I made them with my kids. It’s messy for sure but it’s something that they can do. We have a little fondue looking pot where we do our melting chocolates and that works really well for us. It’s super fun. That’s a thing if you want to have a dessert plate and just take one, you would probably never want more than one of those at a time. They’re just like the kind of thing you keep in your fridge and you have one every once in a while. Okay, do you have a favorite Thanksgiving cocktail?
Emma: Yes. So the thing I make the most often this season, and I love it for Thanksgiving too, is a Hot Toddy. What I love about Hot Toddies, well a bunch of things. So one, you could just make it very simple, very classic. We have a recipe for that on our blog. You can also jazz it up with other things like adding flavor teas, or all sorts of things really if you want. I really like that It warms your hands while you’re drinking it, much like tea or coffee. It’s very cozy feeling. Also, it’s the kind of cocktail that you really have to sip because it’s hot. It’s a Hot Toddy. So you’re not gonna gulp it down, no matter what. Thanksgiving is a lot of food at once. So I think it’s nice that it gets stretched over a long period of time as you’re chatting and hanging out with your family. A cocktail that you kind of naturally drink very slowly, to me makes a lot of sense.
Elsie: Yeah, that’s a good tip. I also love your mulled wine recipe. That is on the blog. That is a great recipe and it’s so fun to do this time of year. My favorite Thanksgiving cocktail is the orange cranberry Margarita. I think cranberry is my ultimate festive drink ingredient. So everything this time of year has to have cranberry juice in it. We learned when we started choosing Christmas recipes in July this year, that you cannot buy cranberries at all times of the year. It’s a seasonal thing that’s only in your grocery store certain parts of the year. So yeah, enjoy those because they do make the cutest garnish. I like to put them on the little stick and roll it in honey and then you roll it in sugar and it looks sparkly and pretty. It’s adorable. So I love it. Love it. Okay, so what is a unique idea that you either do for Thanksgiving or you want to try?
Emma: Something that we do, I don’t know if it’s so unique, they do it across the country, but we love to do the turkey trot. I think last year it was virtual, might have been virtual the last two years. I don’t know what’s happening this year in our town but it’s something that I’ve done with my brother and his family a bunch of times and with friends in the past. I’ve done it most years. It’s really fun. I’d love to get Oscar into it. Just bundle him up and have him in a stroller. So I kind of love the turkey trot. If you’re not familiar, it’s like a little run or walk that lots of cities put on, and usually the money goes to a local food pantry or the food bank. It just depends what your town’s doing but they’re all across the country. They might even be across the world. I’m not really sure, you should tell us if you’re from another country and you do the turkey trot. I would love to know. Yeah, but I just don’t think it’s a thing everywhere. So I don’t know.
Elsie: It’s a 5k run so even if you go slow, it only takes about an hour or so. It’s not like a big time commitment or anything. Yeah, it’s really fun. I used to go with you every year.
Emma: Yeah, it’s a blast. It used to feel so early but now that I have kids, I’m like that’s a regular time to wake up. It’s good.
Elsie: Okay, I have one that I want to try. I heard this from someone, I think it was a podcast listener. If it was you, I’m sorry, but someone told me this idea and it really stuck with me and I love it. So the idea is that the night before Thanksgiving you do pie night with your family. So basically, you spend all this time making all these pies and making all this food and doing all this prep, but then you really only get to enjoy it for one meal. I think the thing about this that is kind of a bummer is that you do get full. Sometimes by the time you get to the pie, you don’t even really care that much about it. So this person was saying that they just have a couple of extra pies and the night before Thanksgiving they dig into pies early. It’s a way to sort of elongate the holiday and also enjoy the pies more as their own focused attraction, which I love that. Sounds fun. I kind of think the lead up to the meal of Thanksgiving is kind of stressful to me. Some people cook all day and don’t eat until more like nighttime or afternoon. That’s too long for me.
Emma: That’s the time to eat Chex mix. While you’re waiting.
Elsie: Okay, so yeah, I’m excited to try pie night. Is there anything that is very Heuga that gives you the warm and cozy feelings of the holiday season that we can start basically immediately, that we can all do, to make our home cozier?
Emma: Hmm, yeah. So one tradition we do that starts right after, pretty much right after Thanksgiving, is we do a tea Advent. So leading up to Christmas, I’ll tell you the truth, because you’re our friends, we start early because we usually miss a day or two. We just start it right after Thanksgiving and it goes until Christmas. Sometimes it goes until New Year’s because we will miss a day here or there or whatever. It’s a tea Advent that my husband and I do together. We usually use David’s Tea. They do like a tea advent calendar. They usually have a couple actually. They’ll have one that’s all caffeine free or you can get one that’s a mix.
Elsie: Oh, cool.
Emma: I kind of like the mix because we’ll check the day before and if it’s a caffeine tea, then we’ll have it in the morning versus one at night because I can’t sleep if I have caffeine late at night. But yeah, it’s just like a cozy little tradition that’s fun and hot drinks. Who doesn’t love a hot drink?
Elsie: Yeah, I love an Advent that’s meant for adults. That’s really cute. Okay, well, mine is, so my favorite candle scent is Christmas tree. I basically don’t care about any other candles, except for Christmas tree. All year round I’m always gravitating towards the more woodsier, the more spicy, and definitely anything that’s in the fern needle category is my main thing. So I love it and I will buy every single Christmas tree candle that I can find. If I don’t use them all during the holiday season, I’m totally fine with that because I like them year round. Because yeah, pretty much candle wise, I just want to pretend like I’m living in a Christmas tree forest in the woods, and that’s just like where I live, that’s my home.
Emma: I love it.
Elsie: Yeah and then my other one, I talked about this last week in our episode, but paper chains absolutely everywhere. Paper chains are the coziest, cutest, nostalgic childhood magic thing that just gives me all of the happy feelings when I see them.
Emma: I love it. So this is a question we got on Instagram. “I just got Pinterest, so how do you curate your Pinterest?”
Elsie: Okay, I have so many tips.
Emma: This is all you because I’m not a Pinterest expert at all. I feel like this question is for Elsie.
Elsie: Yes. So I love Pinterest, I would say it’s definitely my number one place where I get design inspiration and ideas. I know that there are design inspirations on Instagram and on Tik Tok and things like that but I feel like on Pinterest, you’re really building an archive where you can see it all together, it’s cohesive. I like to do a little bit of pinning every single night. I’ve learned a few things. Their algorithm is very, very strong and very good. Recently we made a brand new account for our business, Childhood Magic. As I was using that account for the first time and starting it up and building it and filling in the categories, I realized how curated my account is because what you see in a brand new account and what I see in my account are completely different. So that was really encouraging. What I would say, the number one tip is, if there’s something you’re interested in seeing on Pinterest, pin five of them, just to start with. I’ve recently been thinking about kitchens and kitchens or my obsession. I’m trying to find my perfect version of a stove niche or a stove nook, but you know, what goes over your range, a way for your hood to be built in basically. There are hundreds of different designs that people have done and now my feed is absolutely full of them. Every time I go on there, it’s just giving me more and more. So anything that you’re interested in, start a board for it, pin it, and really focus what you pin on your style. Don’t pin things that you don’t like how they look, I know that sounds kind of weird, but if it’s something like, it’s just an idea or a recipe, just save it somewhere else. I have notes. I’m really into the notes that are a part of Apple, they’re on your phone and on your computer. I use those, 1000s of them like it’s too much, but that’s a place where I would put a recipe that I want to try or something like that if it’s ugly. If it’s beautiful, then pin it on Pinterest, but always be pinning things that are beautiful to you because then you’re curating your feed to understand your specific aesthetic. Now that I have been pinning for years in this very hyper aggressive, curated way, my feed is so beautiful to me all the time. I can just go in there and scroll and scroll and it’s gorgeous. So yeah, I think it’s similar to other things. Just engage with what you’re interested in and pretty soon you’ll be rolling in the good pens. Yeah, that’s so exciting. I love Pinterest. I think it’s definitely, I don’t know if it’s considered social media, but it’s, I would say, it’s definitely the most underrated social media if it is.
Emma: Yeah, it is like a weird blend of social media and then also search algorithm, like a very beautiful Google or something.
Elsie: Yeah, it’s gorgeous. I think it’s such a good place to get ideas for your home and figure out your style. Figure out what kind of clothes you want to wear, how you want to dress, how you want to dress your kids, how you want to decorate every room in your home. There’s so many fun things that you can curate on there.
Emma: Absolutely. All right. So now we’re gonna do our book report. Let’s talk about Tastemakers. This book is nonfiction and so there’s not really spoilers.
Elsie: Tagline is, seven immigrant women who revolutionized food in America. I must say the cover is gorgeous.
Emma: It’s beautiful.
Elsie: It’s a beautiful bright red color. So if you haven’t ordered it yet, I don’t know if it comes in a paperback but the hardcover is definitely the way to go.
Emma: I actually listened to it, which was really fun. So here’s kind of a little synopsis about what the book is about. You heard from the tagline, it’s about seven immigrant women. It kind of reads or listens, almost like a series of short stories. Some of them are a little bit interconnected, but for the most part, they kind of stand on their own. It kind of felt like listening to a series of seven different podcast episodes, or something, which I really enjoyed as far as if you’re going to listen to this book. It felt like there was natural starting and stop points, which sometimes I kind of like when I’m listening to something because I need to stop listening so that I can go do something where I need to be not listening to something. So as far as consuming it, I loved listening to it but whether you listen to it or read it, it’s kind of like reading a series of short stories, or different episodes. Each one focuses on a different woman who was an immigrant, all different countries, and their journey to becoming/bringing their food to America. Many of them wrote cookbooks, a few of them had TV shows. It was really fun to hear their stories, they’re all very different but at the same time, they had a lot of similarities because in part they’re all immigrants, but also they’re all women, so many of them had children. A lot of the stories had to do with difficulties in their marriage, things they had to overcome in those arenas. So in that sense, it felt extremely relatable. It felt both relatable and like crazy inspiring, what they were getting done and what they were accomplishing among all these, you know, difficulties that they sometimes had to overcome or even just busy schedules, like having young children and things like that. So anyway, I loved it. It’s very inspiring.
Elsie: Yeah, it was super inspiring. I think it was a great perspective maker for me to read all the stories that happened really not that long ago. Not that long before we were born. One of my favorite moments in the TV show Mad Men, it was just so many moments where you realize how much things have changed and the world has changed, is when I think it’s in maybe the Palm Springs episode when someone asked Don Draper if he’s tried Mexican food, and he says, No. I just loved that because it’s so hard to imagine an America without Mexican food, Chinese food, Italian food, sushi, you know, every single kind. The way that we eat is so diverse. Something that I always realize when we’re traveling in other countries, is that I think it’s unique about America that we think we have to have a different style of food every single day or for every single meal. In other countries, if you go to China, you could spend two whole weeks only eating Chinese food for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and never really feel like there’s an opportunity or a need to have other foods or branch out from there. So I think that the United States is really interesting in that way. It’s also interesting to think that this was more like in our grandparents generation, it wasn’t that long ago that all of this stuff was brand new. People were trying all of these types of foods and recipes and cooking at home for the first time and then you know, by our generation it’s just how we were raised and so normal to us and like a thing. People always say to us, Chinese food in America isn’t really Chinese food, and were like, well, how do you know because you haven’t even been to China. Most people don’t know, that’s just like a thing that we say, or a thing that we’re sort of taught. I think it’s very interesting to learn it from the source. Yeah, that was very illuminating. Another thing that we thought was so cool about this book is that it’s basically a resource for finding so many amazing vintage cookbooks. If you want to collect vintage cookbooks that have historical significance for the first Italian cookbook, the first Chinese cookbook, this is such a good resource. Go to town with a highlighter and find all these books. Emma said she already started ordering her collection, I just love that.
Emma: Some of them are still in print so you can get them new, but many of them are out of print, especially for some of the authors who’ve written multiple books. Some of their early ones are no longer in print. So anyway, you can still find them though. I found many of them on eBay but other places that sell used books, you could probably find them too. Many of the cookbooks don’t have photographs. If you’re used to cookbooks, where every single recipe has a photograph, I get it, that’s what I’m used to as well. These are older, some of them have illustrations and some of them are just more about the descriptions. That’s another thing I wanted to mention that I loved about this book, it’s not only inspiring and it was really cool to hear all these women’s stories and see how they changed America but also, I just love reading or listening to descriptions of food. I really do. And I thought the author did such a great job of talking through some of the recipes that the women we’re known for, describing the way it smelled, or the texture of the rice, or just different things like that. That’s always one of my favorite things, whether it’s fiction or nonfiction. I just love descriptions of food. It’s just fun and it makes me excited to cook.
Elsie: Yeah, it was a very fun read. I think I want to order, first I want to start with the Chinese cookbooks and I really want to try the Italian cookbooks also and maybe the French cookbooks. There’s also a little bit of a Julia Child crossover story in here, which is really interesting because if you were to ask me before I read this book, what’s a vintage cookbook that’s French? I would only know the Julia Child book so that was cool to get other references that we can order. I think that will be really exciting.
Emma: Yeah, it was fun to read that interlude. I think the author felt it needed to be in there because she was such a large figure in American cooking. I think a lot of the women in this book kind of would get compared to her even though that doesn’t always make sense. I think the author even mentioned this at one point, and I thought it was a great thing to point out, that a lot of times, I think he said the patriarchy likes to kind of compare women to each other and it’s a way that sometimes we tear each other down when really we should be building each other up in our careers, no matter our backgrounds or differences. I think it’s interesting to see how the world would compare some women to Julia Child when it doesn’t even make much sense to do that.
Elsie: Yeah, definitely not. I also thought the translation process was really interesting. So sometimes they were trying to find a substitute ingredient that was close enough, that you could find at an American grocery store during the 40s, or the 50s, or the 60s. That was all really interesting too. Jeremy is obsessed with this Chinese cooking YouTube channel. It’s like his main personality trait is this YouTube channel. They always show reviews of like what can you find that’s close enough? And that is something that you have to do. And yeah, that looks really, really challenging. Then obviously, just the language barrier part of it. I thought it was an amazing book. Definitely, if you’re interested in learning more about the history of cooking in the US, I think that this is a great book to read.
Emma: Yes, for sure.
Elsie: Okay, thanks so much for listening. If you want to send me a birthday gift this week, it is my birthday week and I am accepting five star reviews for our podcast, and also five star reviews on our recipes on A Beautiful Mess. A lot of people don’t even know you can leave star reviews on A Beautiful Mess. So if you’ve ever tried one of our recipes, and enjoyed it, we would love to see a comment from you. It would mean a lot and they would make me have a happier birthday. I’m joking, I’m joking. Yeah, I love you all. We’ll be back next week with our holiday tradition special. Bye.